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Planning permission secured for Stafford micropub eight months after licence granted

A new micropub can now open in a former town centre shop unit more than eight months after it was granted a licence.

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Lichfield Street, Stafford. Photo: Google

The Ship Aground in Stafford was given permission to serve alcohol and play music by the borough council’s licensing sub-committee in May 2021 and a planning application to change the use of the unit was submitted two months beforehand.

But planning officers at the borough council have only recently approved the proposals.

Alongside the micropub a vinyl record store is planned for the pub in Lichfield Street, including a “listening library” with turntables, a planning officers’ report said. The proposed opening hours are 10am to midnight.

The report added: “The applicant states that they will also be operating a takeout bottle shop so that people can come in and buy the freshest craft beer in cans and bottles and enjoy them at home.

“The site is situated within Stafford town centre where there is a well-established night time economy. It is likely that the proposal would assist in revitalising an area of the town centre with a number of vacant units.

“Whilst it is unknown exactly where the nearest residential unit to the site is situated, from the information available, it would appear there are no immediately adjoining residential flats to the premises. Therefore, it is not considered that the proposal would result in any undue harm in these circumstances and given the existing use of nearby units.”

Seven objections were submitted to the council in response to the proposal. Concerns were raised about potential antisocial behaviour from revellers if the plans were approved and objectors said the proposal was not suitable for the location.

One said: “We have seen many changes to our surrounding area in the past 30 years including an increase in pubs, restaurants and takeaways. CCTV cameras enable us to see the impact these establishments have on our immediate surroundings.

“Party revellers mixing drugs on our outside rear counter, smashed shop frontages, discarded takeaways, human faeces, vomit and rodents will only increase and potentially impact public health if this change of use is approved.”

The number of existing bars and pubs nearby was highlighted at last year’s premises licence hearing.

John McLean, who spoke on behalf of four objectors in May, said: “My clients have, over a number of years, been suffering at the hands of revellers causing issues with the operation and ongoing security of their businesses.

“We believe the application as currently presented to the authority will increase those ongoing antisocial behaviour trends and increase the criminal activity that my clients have experienced. There have been incidences of vandalism, theft, damage, setting fire to the premises all associated with revellers. And public urination – they tend to come into the back of the property and relieve themselves.”

But Martin Beesley, one of the directors of The Ship Aground, said staff were committed to running a safe and reputable establishment with a community focus.

He said: "We agree to all conditions requested by police and we will proactively work with our neighbours, local community groups, Partners Against Business Crime in Stafford and local law enforcers to create a safe environment.

“We will proactively deter antisocial behaviour, report all such behaviour as appropriate and exercise our right to refuse service. We will operate safeguarding policies such as Challenge 25 and no tolerance towards drug use.

“We will keep the area to the front and rear of the premises clean and free from obstruction at all times, to include the removal of all litter at the opening and closing times and at regular intervals in between. We will meet with neighbouring properties regularly to ensure there are no ongoing or unresolved issues.”

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